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Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Russia suffers huge losses in bloody Bakhmut weekend – Kiev

According to the Ukrainian military, Russian troops have suffered more heavy casualties as the fight to capture the hard-fought city of Bakhmut drags on.

Ukrainian forces have killed 710 Russian servicemen in the previous 24 hours, the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces said on Monday morning. On Sunday, the General Staff reported a daily death toll of 1,090, up from 1,010 the day before.

The battle for control of the eastern Donbass city of Bakhmut has dragged on for months, and parts of it have become what Britain’s Defense Ministry on Saturday described as a “kill zone”.

Figures reported by Ukraine’s defense ministry will not fully match the Battle of Bakhmut, and Kiev’s estimates of Russian casualties are usually higher than Western estimates. The Ukrainian military said on Monday that a total of 159,800 Russians had been killed in Ukraine since February 24, 2022.

However, Britain’s Ministry of Defense said on February 17 that Russian troops and Wagner mercenaries were likely to have suffered as many as 200,000 casualties since the invasion began. The ministry evaluated up to 60,000 soldiers in February.

news week emailed the Russian Defense Ministry for comment.

On Sunday, Russia said 220 Ukrainian soldiers were killed in a single day in fighting in Donetsk, without giving the death toll for Bakhmut. The day before, Ukrainian military spokesman Serhiy Cherevaty said that 221 Moscow militants had been killed in Bakhmut in the 24 hours before the figure was released.

In his evening address on Sunday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that in less than a week, starting March 6, Ukraine had managed to kill “more than 1,100 enemy soldiers” in the Bakhmut area alone.

There are “irreversible casualties” for Russia near the city, he said, adding that another 1,500 Russian fighters were disabled.

Ukraine’s General Staff said Monday that Russian military and paramilitary forces continue to attack the city, but Ukraine has not relinquished control.

On Sunday, the head of the Wagner Group’s mercenary squad, Yevgeny Prigozhin, said the closer Russian forces get to the center of the city, “the harder the fighting, the more artillery is working against us and the more tanks.”

But Ukrainian fighters “throw in endless reserves,” Prigozhin added in a comment quoted by Reuters. “But we are making progress and we will make progress.”

Russian military commanders “may seek to expend Wagner forces — and Prigozhin’s influence — in Bakhmut,” the Washington-based Institute for War Studies (ISW) said Sunday.

The Russian advance in Bakhmut has slowed after Ukraine withdrew from the eastern part of the city last week, the think tank said. On Saturday, the ISW had indicated that Wagner fighters “were becoming more and more pinned down in urban areas,” making advances into Bakhmut difficult.

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